A young Bo’ness woman is today flying to the USA for a potentially life-changing summer adventure at world-famous Harvard University.
Lauren Tenn-Mills (18) has been awarded a seven-week residential stay at Harvard’s secondary school summer programme, and will be staying at the university campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, north of Boston.
The trip, also involving fellow Scott Andi Stannard (17) from Orkney, has been made possible by the support of Who Cares? Scotland, local authorities, and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Lauren, a student at Forth Valley College, said: “Harvard isn’t a place I ever thought I would be able to associate myself with, especially as a young care experienced teenager from Bo’ness.
“Chances like this are what give children in care hope for a brighter future. I believe it is so important for every child in the system to realise that they have the potential to achieve whatever they put their mind to.”
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland (WC?S) said: “I’m positive that Andi and Lauren will thrive at Harvard, and take that experience with them as they continue their studies”, but added: “Andi and Lauren are amongst the exception.
“Current figures show that just 16 per cent of care-experienced young people leave school with a single Higher, or a similar qualification.
“From 40 years of WC?S evidence, we know that Care Experienced people have always had high aspirations – and we need ensure all aspects of the system are able to support their ambitions.”
Kevin Browne-MacLeod, Director of Care Experienced Membership at WC?S, said: “We need to do more to ensure that attainment for all people with Care Experience continues to improve.
“Behind all these great opportunities is suffering - this is a rare opportunity for anybody, even more for Care Experienced young people.
“We are looking at ways in which as a society we can better support Care Experienced young people throughout their education”.
Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said of the girls’ adventure: “It is a real thrill to see them set out on their own. “Their time at Harvard will help shape them and their outlook on life, and I’m sure their story will inspire others, who I hope will realise that your background should not be a barrier to your ambitions.”